The Chiefs won the AFC West in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history, and they’ll have a unique opportunity to gauge their first-round pick’s development because of their spot in the AFC standings.
Being locked into the No. 4 seed, the Chiefs will start Patrick Mahomes against the Broncos, Andy Reid said (via B.J. Kissel of KCChiefs.com, on Twitter). Mahomes has yet to play this season, but with the 9-6 Chiefs guaranteed to play in the 4-5 game next weekend, it marks an interesting chance to see Mahomes in action.
Alex Smith has been the Chiefs’ starter for the past five seasons. Smith’s been the longest-tenured Chiefs starter since Trent Green, but he has just one season remaining on his contract and saw Kansas City trade up from No. 28 to No. 10 to select Mahomes — their first first-round quarterback investment since 1983. Reid said Smith is having an “MVP-caliber” season and understands the team’s situation going into a meaningless Week 17 game in Denver (Twitter link via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star).
So, it doesn’t sound like the Chiefs will have a Doug Flutie/Rob Johnson situation on their hands this weekend, regardless of how Mahomes performs (the 1999 Bills played Johnson in a meaningless regular-season finale then started the younger player over the incumbent in the Music City Miracle loss to the Titans in what’s turned out to be their most recent playoff game).
Mahomes will take the first-team reps in practice this week, with Smith running the scout team, Reid said (via Paylor, on Twitter). The Texas Tech product will face the Broncos’ 2016 first-round pick, Paxton Lynch, who will be making his second start of the season. While Lynch will be going against a backup-laden Chiefs defense, with Reid set to rest starters (Twitter link via Paylor), Mahomes will face a Broncos defense that’s been one of the best in the NFL this season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.